Friday, July 27, 2012

The Olympic Spirit

So, we've been watching the Olympic opening ceremonies. It's something that is kind of lame and passe but I still do it because they only come around every 4 years. I might have teared up a few times in the first, oh, 45 minutes of the opening ceremonies. I thought about my little family 4 years ago when we did this same thing - the host city changes and the athletes are different but you always remember the Olympics and how they made you feel - at least I do. 

Now I'm a bit bored and am emailing and blogging and Facebooking and keeping an ear out for interesting tidbits. My point of this post is not so much the ceremonies themselves, but something that reminds me of the real point of the Olympics.

A few weeks ago I heard this story on The World. A South Sudanese marathoner (who, by the way, had never ran a marathon until last August! And then he qualified for the 2012 Olympics! Man, if only.) South Sudan isn't a country that is recognized by the IOC, so this runner tell his story of how he had petitioned the IOC to allow him to compete under the Olympic flag. He talked about how he witnessed atrocities at the hands of his original country, Sudan, before coming to America. He found a home here but still has personal and family connections that links him to what is now South Sudan. It's newness, however, keeps South Sudan from gaining representation in the IOC. The story ended with his hope that his application to compete as an independent athlete would be accepted, but he didn't know. I wanted so much for him to be able to live out his dream: represent himself at the Olympics, not the country that brought him so much pain. (Sorry, that was kind of jumbled. Check out the link for a much more inspiring way of hearing the story.)

Fast forward to tonight. I didn't see it, but Shane remarked that there were 3 athletes without a country. I remembered this story and asked if there was a marathoner in the bunch. Guess what? He wasn't there. BUT....he will be! He will be one of 4 athletes allowed to be independent. He is working out his visa and will be in London in time for the men's marathon (one of the last events of the games.)

That is the spirit of the games. You take a person who only knew running because it was a way to stay alive, to keep from being killed. You give him a country that is rich beyond belief who asks him to run not for a grade instead of to stay alive, and he finds he is good. Great, even. And then he gets to live out his dream without betraying himself or his family. I love it. That is the point of the games: representing yourself and your country with dignity and courage. Seeing the greatness of the human spirit in today's athletes and the athletes of the past. Everyone, athlete or not, can relate to that.

I am looking forward to watching the games for the next few weeks. I can't wait for the swimming, gymnastics, track and field, and beach volleyball. 

So, are you watching the Olympics? Do you have events that you won't miss? Did you compare yourself to where you were during the last Olympics, or the Olympics in Atlanta, or the memories of the Salt Lake City Games? I took a little family self-portrait just to remember: we were here. And I was happy that the marathoner will soon be there.


heidikins said...

I watched the opening ceremonies and LOVED the 2 minutes about the independent competitors who had no country but were competing under the IOC flag. So awesome.


Melanie said...

John and I watched all night last night - swimming and gymnastics. I teared up more than once. It's so inspiring watching people push themselves to do incredible things! Especially when it's stuff that I can't do at all! I was thinking of you, actually. I'm sure it's different for you to watch gymnastics, and swimming now that you're a swimmer! :)